The theme for the fifth Dutch Media Week Talk was the future. More specifically, 5G networks and the world of possibilities they bring to us all. Much more than merely faster mobile internet, 5G shows a wide range of opportunities for all sectors. During the show, six guests shared their thoughts on 5G and how it will impact and benefit the media industry.
Josbert van Rooijen, Head of Market Area Benelux, Central en Eastern Europa at Red Bee, was one of the speakers. He explained that 5G is the fifth generation of mobile technology. However, differently from 4G, which was mainly faster than 3G, 5G also allows for new media applications. “It was designed for today’s world, with the cloud, virtualization, and everything IP,” Josbert defined.
He also described some of the unique characteristics of 5G technology, such as the lower energy use and slicing, which divides resources in the 5G network to make them more manageable. As he pointed out, “you could create a slice for emergency services to communicate in a separate environment. Or a slice for media.”
Thomas Roozen, head of Business Development at The Park Playground, showed their newest VR experience: The Mole, based on the TV show of the same name. The game puts players immersed in an environment as if they were on the show. Since 5G is not available yet, The Park uses high-speed wireless internet and incredibly powerful computers, carried by the players in backpacks during the session. They also get a VR headset and a controller. As he described, “the signals go through the backpack to a server, and back to the backpack and headset, which works perfectly in fixed locations. But with multiple locations, with people at home or a mobile location, you get latency. This causes the sound and image to be delayed.” That is where 5G and its insignificant latency come in handy.
He believes that the entire entertainment industry could benefit from 5G. As an example, Thomas mentioned Tomorrowland and its last summer virtual edition with a live stream. The event occurred on a flat-screen. However, “if there’s a VR stream next year, it will really feel like you’re at the festival. And if the latency is zero, then, there’s no difference anymore,” he detailed.
Also, talking about 5G’s low latency and its advantages for the entertainment and gaming industry, Joost Wijermars, director of B2B products at VodafoneZiggo, mentioned the case of Max Verstappen and Ziggo Sport. “Soon, you can watch TV while racing alongside Max Verstappen, without latency. That combination will also make our products more valuable and fun,” he said.
On the business side, Joost explained that a satellite connection for live streams costs a lot for the entertainment industry. With 5G networks, on the other hand, the amount spent on these connections can be much lower. “With a 5G SIM card and your camera, you can combine all signals anywhere, making the media very accessible,” he described.
John Zijlmans, key account manager at VodafoneZiggo, highlighted the importance of building an ecosystem around 5G. He pointed out that Vodafone and Ericsson are exceptional at building and running networks. However, they need partnerships with companies like The Park and Dutch Rose Media for these parties to create the applications for 5G. As John said, “with 4G, you could already use YouTube on your smartphone. And now, homeworkers can combine a walk in the park with a video call. They can already do that with 4G. But with 5G, we’re saying: let’s make business cases and models together. That’s why we’ve opened the 5G Hub together in Eindhoven.”
He pointed out that, like any technology, 5G is fun and very interesting. However, it has to be put to fair, creative use. This is 5G Hub’s primary objective: “bring parties together to share their views on how 5G can benefit the media, industries, gaming,” John explained, underlining 5G Hub’s characteristic of a place for mutual inspiration to find applications for 5G.
The fifth speaker, Bas Beukers, CCO of Horus VR, showed his VRiend project, the 2019 5G Award winner. It quickly captures the audio and video at the location where the user would like to go. As an example, “let’s say you’re a child in a hospital and you want to join your friends at home or in the classroom. What you have to do is place VRiend at the location you’d like to go, turn it on, and it immediately starts streaming to the VR headset,” explained Bas. The person wearing it can feel like they are leaving the place where they are and feeling immersed where they want to be. But for that to happen, 5G’s low-latency connection is imperative. Bas also pointed out that 5G will allow the sending of much more data, much faster. “So now we’re looking at how we can stream 8K video to another location and create a lifelike experience,” he said.
The last guest, Natasja Paulssen, creative director at Dutch Rose Media, showed several projects using augmented reality, where the user can see the real world around it. One of them was created in the Volumetric Studio, at Effenaar, in Eindhoven, the only one in the country. According to her, a volumetric studio is a new media type: “we already had 360-degree video, filming outward. But volumetric is filming inward, capturing a person in 3D. Then you can place this person anywhere you want.”
Natasja said that she likes “the magic realism: when the boundary between the digital and physical will fade,” also pointing out that how people will feel about it is still something to be seen.